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#SMWsmac: The Hottest Social Media Tips [Nathan Latka]

Lujure’s Nathan Latka Shares Numerous Social Media Tips for Businesses

CEO of Lujure Nathan Latka brought his social media expertise to dbmei’s Social Media Action Camp part of Social Media Week in NYC and offered business owners a number of tips for optimizing Facebook fan outreach. His company, Lujure, is a growing Facebook application designed to help users enhance their Facebook pages with an easy drag-and-drop interface.

Text Message Marketing

The first point Latka stressed was moving towards text message marketing. Larger markets, such as the marketing industry in India, have skipped using computers as their main communications altogether and moved right into marketing via SMS. He predicted it would take off in 2012 as a marketing tool for a number of businesses in the U.S.

He demonstrated text message marketing through asking the audience to take out their phones and text LUJURE to a number. They received a message back indicating they followed his Facebook page. Latka suggested putting up a slide at business presentations or a sign in your store to encourage customers to follow the company Facebook page.

Using text message marketing for businesses also enables page updates to be sent to phones, which can increase traffic, engagement and, of course, help with the bottom line for whatever products or services a business hopes to distribute.

A website Latka suggests using for text message marketing is CallLoop.com, which boasts a 97% open rate for its users. Utilizing text message marketing will help spread the message of your brick-and-mortar business to others in your area and grow your Facebook fan base.

Public Post Searches

Utilizing public post searches may also help businesses close sales and create an emotional connection with potential business. Latka argued that Facebook’s search is even more powerful than Google’s in terms of reaching your target clients. Here are the steps to use public search via Facebook.

  1. Type a key phrase in your Facebook search bar and use quotes around it. In his example, you might use the phrase “broken toilet” if you run a plumbing business or “moving to New York” if you are a realtor in New York.
  2. Next, click the magnifying glass icon located to the right of the search bar.
  3. Third, click the “public post” option to the left of the results. This will generate the results posted from accounts that have enabled public access to their status updates.

When using public post searches, it is wise to start communicating with the prospective client based on a common interest you share. This is a creative loophole that does not violate the terms of use with Facebook that can lead to traffic on your site.

In the example of the real estate agent, for instance, a realtor might contact someone that posted about moving to New York based on a common book they read. Latka suggested trying to find a genuine shared interest and not try to fake it just to bring in new business; he advocated “speaking their language” to find a connection. After the conversation has begun, then it is wise to direct them to the Facebook page and move the organic relationship from friend to client.

One of the few downfalls of using the public posts site is it does not allow you to narrow down your search based on demographics. However, trying different searches might help you find what best works for your business.

Email Capture

Latka also suggested using email capture on your Facebook landing page. One of the ways he suggests doing this is through the Facebook registration application. This enables an auto-fill for users who have their phone number on Facebook.

With the use of the application, the user’s name and email address are already enabled, and all they have to do is click one button to submit their information. Email capture can help you send important information via newsletters or quick email announcements. As a powerful marketing tool, email still plays a vital role in business communications.

Facebook Page Timeline Changes

One major concern raised during Latka’s presentation was the fact that starting February 29, 2012, Facebook will beta test the Timeline for Facebook Pages. This raises concerns for business owners who are accustomed to using Tabs on the page. Latka does not see this as an issue, as he knows that Facebook utilizes ads from small businesses as a core component of its revenues. Therefore, it is likely the ability to engage with fans on pages will look different, but the core function will stay the same.

Latka’s suggestions are easy to use for business owners in a number of industries. These methods are easy to adapt and provide a creative way to engage with current clients while gaining new ones. Email capture and the growth of text message marketing can help businesses expand their reach and find a renewed fan base via Facebook’s public posts. It is likely these methods will help a number of people with searches and optimized marketing to grow their business no matter from what industry they hail.

Here is the LiveStream from his Presentation: http://new.livestream.com/smwnybiz/SocialMediaActionCamp/videos/162965

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What the Wedding Industry Taught Me About Branding

The wedding industry is not only high-grossing but highly specialized. According to the 2011 BRIDES American Wedding Study, the average wedding costs $26,501. While that figure has fallen about 5% since 2009 due to the economic recession, weddings are still very high-paying and nearly recession-proof business. Even in tough times, couples like to celebrate their nuptials in style, which is often not cheap.

As a freelance writer and editor, I have had experience with the wedding industry from the first article I wrote for a client trying to break into this competitive market. Here are some key points I have taken away from my work in the wedding niche in regards to business branding. Perhaps those in the wedding industry and beyond can find these tips helpful!

Supply a Need in Your Products or Services

Does your startup do what everyone else does? Chances are, if it is part of the wedding industry, it won’t take off. It’s a harsh but true reality that following the crowd will not get you noticed, and this is especially true in weddings.

Businesses must fill a unique need in their products or services. This is how BridesView, a wedding inspiration community, went from being a small startup to being featured on Mashable in a very short amount of time! They found a unique need to fill and found it in linking vendors and brides together through a photo sharing community.

Provide Value to Clients and Customers

One of the biggest hurdles in the wedding niche is getting noticed. It’s a competitive market, and you can bet every major city in the U.S. is teeming with photo booth rentals, DJ and lighting professionals, and floral designers anticipating that busy summer season. However, if you are not the kind of professional that provides outstanding service, you’ll get left behind!

Some of the best businesses not only are great at branding because of what they do, but because the mission of their brand shows through their work. I have had clients that are widely recognized from the five-star reviews they receive on WeddingWire and repeatedly gain recognition for their work.

Network, Network, Network!

One of the best ways to grow your brand is to partner with others in the wedding industry. Partnering with other businesses not only helps you gain their trust and expertise, but can help you come up with all new ideas!

Let’s say you want to provide a unique wedding editorial blog to your region. Why not partner with a wedding photographer or graphic designer to get your blog some traction? Perhaps they can send their clients your way once the blog is up and running. You will gain more exposure with partners and can likely find help in an area you do not know from an expert.

Regardless if you are working in the wedding industry or not, you can learn a lot about branding from it! Successful wedding businesses fulfill the needs of their client base; provide high-quality services or products; and are not afraid of working with others to improve their business. Try using some of these strategies in 2012 to boost your business!

Author:

Megan Harris is the owner of MeganWrites Media, a freelance writing and editing company based in St. Louis, Missouri. As a freelance writer, she has been published on a number of websites, featured on Google News and had ghostwritten work published with Huffington Post Weddings. Megan loves working with wedding vendors to create compelling content, but is available to provide consultations and article writing in a number of other niches. Visit: www.meganwrites.com or call 314.662.1850.

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4 Questions Businesses Must Ask New Freelance Workers

Many corporations and businesses use freelancers to do side projects and long-term work. Companies are finding that outsourcing to freelance workers can be very beneficial. However, businesses who are looking to hire freelance workers need to keep in mind that not all will offer up quality work.

Ask these four questions to determine if a freelancer’s work really meets the standards you need.

1. What is your experience?

Can you find examples of their work online? Have they provided you a website or portfolio? If not, you might want to steer clear of them.

Good freelancers have an online portfolio and offer samples of their work upfront. If they are new at freelancing, they should still be able to offer samples of past work, either from volunteering or academic work. You wouldn’t hire an electrician without a good track record; don’t leave your projects to an inexperienced freelancer!


2. What are your rates?

If you want to work with a high-quality, professional freelance worker, ask what they charge. If they are skilled at their craft, the rates will be higher not only because they are providing a service with no out-of-pocket benefits, such as health insurance, from you, but likely have a more flexible schedule than your average worker. Pay attention to freelance workers’ rates to see if they value their work as much as you will when it’s complete.


3. How often do you communicate with your clients?

When working with a skilled freelancer, you will find them to be very communicative! High-quality freelance workers know the importance of getting a project done right the first time and will ask many questions or follow up on the project frequently. If your freelance worker communicates often, they truly care about their clients and are likely to provide high-quality work!

4. How do you market yourself?

When working with freelance professionals, especially those involved in marketing, social media management and writing, you must ensure that they are skilled in their area.

For example, if a freelance writer/social media manager has many misspellings on their website or use social media unwisely, they will likely provide similar work to you. Check their Facebook page and Twitter accounts to ensure good marketing practices! You might be surprised to find those that sound great in their email have little to no web presence.

Sources:
Cafe Witness: 5 Tips for Working with Freelancers (From a Freelancer)
The Writers Place: Working with Freelancers for the First Time
Production Crew: 5 Tips on Working with Freelancers

The Importance of Facebook Marketing Engagement Tools

Discussion of social media campaigns would not be complete if the power of Facebook engagement was left out. Brands of all sizes and from many industries create a huge gap in their marketing without some kind of interaction on Facebook. With over 800 million active users worldwide, this leviathan of social media platforms is a source businesses cannot ignore.

Facebook as a Marketing Tool

There are a number of examples of ways businesses have used Facebook to drive traffic to their page and, consequently, to their brand. Some strategies are more effective than others. In fall 2011, Remington, a beauty and hair care company, launched a campaign to gain Facebook fans. The company posted a personality quiz relevant to its followers called, “What Kind of Girl Are You?”

The result? 54% of followers took the quiz, and for every 1 share of the quiz results, 1 unique visitor took Remington’s quiz. This drove traffic to Remington’s page which, undoubtedly, boosted sales. This is just one of many examples of a business using Facebook to reach out and attract current and new customers to their brand.

Maria Peagler (@sm_onlineclass on Twitter) shares over 50 Facebook marketing strategies through her classes that include utilizing contests, regular interactions, and collaboration with others to improve marketing on the site. Twitter user @JeffAbel recently shared a screenshot of the strategies here.

Using regular marketing tools has also been found to be more beneficial than using targeted ads. As the chart below shows, users in general are not fond of ads on Facebook. Over 40% of those surveyed in June 2010 by Inside Facebook did not like ads from sites other than Facebook itself. In a separate question, 62.7% of those surveyed disliked ads from other websites.

For some users, obvious ads through Facebook deterred them from the business. In today’s digital age, creativity is a must when it comes to marketing, which means reaching beyond the usual ads and campaigns.

Using Social Plugin Tools: Rebranding a Business

Facebook’s resources for pages offer many suggestions for creating engaging content, which includes using social plugin tools to let others know on your websites and profiles about your page.

I recently rebranded my freelancing business and took full advantage of the social plugin tools. To start, I worked with a fellow freelancer, Amanda Rinker Editing, Etc., to create a Welcome page for my business.

The Welcome page has received a number of compliments and has others asking themselves, “What do I need to do to improve my Facebook page?” Ms. Rinker also included a “Contact” page so those interested in my writing and editing services can email me directly rather than going to my website to search for contact information. These professional touches are just some of the ways businesses can create engaging content.

Another aspect of my new page was getting others to move from the personal freelance writing page to the new one. This is somewhat problematic since Facebook changed its layout multiple times this year. Along with this, the new layout with highlighted stories makes it easy for posts to become lost in the chaos.

To make the transition smoother, I have left up both pages for a period of time and regularly reminded users when the older page would be unpublished, both through my personal account to friends and family and on the older page. This encouraged users to go to the new page of my rebranded business. Over half of the previous page’s users have “liked” the page so far, and the new look has brought on new followers as well.

Conclusion

It’s one thing to have a presence on Facebook, but quite another to use it as an effective marketing tool. Today, businesses must use a variety of tools to educate, inform and gain revenue from their customer base. Whether this means creating a custom quiz like Remington, avoiding ads that might make customers uneasy, or rebranding to entice new business, it is important to see Facebook not just as a platform, but as an important tool in your marketing arsenal.

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